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On March 23rd (last Friday) at noon, an estimated 61,000 people met at rallies in 133 different cities to protest the government's "HHS Mandate." Pictured above is the crowd gathering at the North Dakota State Capitol. I'm told about 700 people attended the rally in Bismarck.
This "mandate" is part of the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" that, if it stands as it does (as a law) will violate our freedom of religion as guaranteed in the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This freedom is the very first of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, and we must now fight to protect it.
Under this law, as I understand it, all employers who provide insurance for their employees must provide policies that cover contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs such as those "morning-after pills" (yes, they do work by causing very early abortions in some cases, contrary to what the drug advertising and literature says) and sterilization surgeries free of charge, without a co-pay, to women who want them. The current administration is arguing that these drugs and services constitute a "right" that women have, something necessary for their health (sorry, but fertility and pregnancy are not a disease).
The Obama administration has made a so-called "compromise" in which the policies paid for by religious employers (who is the government to say who counts as a "religious" employer?) will not cover these services, but that the insurance companies themselves will provide them. This is stupid. Where does the insurance company get their money? From the money employers and/or employees pay in premiums. Therefore, we're still forced to provide these drugs and services against our will.
What's more, if you're a pro-life owner of a technology business who disagrees with contraception (as is your right in the constitution) for whatever reason, sorry--the government says you must provide it for your employees. How insulting is that!? If you're a church, the government will pretend to let you practice your faith outside of your worship services. But if you're just joe-schmoe religious guy running a company, you are required to check your faith at at the door when you leave worship on Sunday. What we believe, whether we're employed by a church or religious group or not, should affect on how we live our lives in the world! Be wary of the administration's trend of diminishing our "freedom of religion" to a mere "freedom of worship" that keeps our faith locked inside our churches and limited to Sunday mornings.
Also, under this law, you cannot choose simply to have no insurance. If you do, you will face penalties. The government is attempting to force us to buy insurance products we may not want or face huge penalties that get worse as the years go on.
This image is almost a sidenote. Without getting into a whole different topic (though related to this blog post) I can't discuss is sufficiently. But of all the signs I saw at the Bismarck rally, this one is probably my favorite. How crazy that we must have a protest sign that says "TRUTH EXISTS?" Objectively, there is a right and a wrong. Morality is not all relative and a matter of opinion.
Religious freedom is a right given us by our Creator, not by our government. Pray, fast, and write your representatives! Use your vote in the upcoming election. Don't stand idly by, indifferent, or uneducated about this issue. It's not just about contraception, it's about religious freedom. It's about the government telling you when and where and how you can let your faith impact the way you live your life.
Thank you to Deacon Joe Krupinsky for providing the first three photos in this post.
Fr Jason Signalness